Sometimes, adding heat makes veggies better for you in some ways. Here are nine vegetables that might be better for you when cooked:
- Spinach — This dark green leafy vegetable shrinks up when cooked, which makes it easier to eat more. And more spinach equals more nutrients! Spinach contains oxalic acid, which can hurt your body’s absorption of calcium and iron. But steaming spinach has been shown to cut the oxalic acid by five to 53%. Steaming also allows the spinach to retain its folate content, a B-vitamin that helps your body produce DNA.
- Asparagus — A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology found that cooking asparagus increased its antioxidant and cancer-fighting activity (including phenols, quercetin, rutin, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) by 16 to 25%. And a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that cooking asparagus increased the level of two types of phenolic acid, which has been linked to lower cancer rates.
- Tomatoes — Lycopene (found in many red and pink pigmented foods) is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, and has been linked to lower levels of cancer and heart attacks. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that cooking actually boosted the amount of lycopene in tomatoes. Also, lycopene is a fat-soluble antioxidant, which means it’s better absorbed by your body when consumed with some healthy form of fat.
- Mushrooms — Mushrooms retain more antioxidants when cooked. A 2006 study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that using heat significantly enhanced the overall antioxidant activities of Shiitake mushrooms. Additionally, some types of raw mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine. Joel Fuhrman, MD, says cooking mushrooms for even a few minutes gets rid of most of the mild toxins they contain.
- Potatoes — In general, raw potatoes contain a lot of resistant starch, which can cause gas and bloating. Raw potatoes also have anti-nutrients (which can interfere with the absorption of key vitamins and minerals) that decrease during cooking.
- Carrots, Celery, and Green Beans — A 2009 study published in the Journal of Food Science found two vegetables that actually become healthier with cooking — carrots and celery. Green beans did, too, except when they were boiled or pressure cooked. Cooking and pureeing carrots (with the skins on) can multiply their antioxidant power threefold! Roasting can also boost nutrients.
- Legumes — Most legumes can’t be eaten raw, though some can be sprouted as an alternative to cooking. Some beans (red kidney beans in particular) contain a specific lectin that can cause gastrointestinal issues; however, cooking deactivates this compound. Nutritionally, a 2013 study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that both sprouting and cooking beans improved some of their health benefits including their neuroprotective and anticancer effects.
(taken from the Food Revolution)